Phenomenal: Mariners’ Julio Rodríguez named All-Star as rookie

Jul 10, 2022, 2:42 PM | Updated: Jul 11, 2022, 12:06 pm

The Seattle Mariners have just one player on the initial 2022 American League All-Star roster, but that one player should get plenty of attention during the MLB All-Star Game festivities at Dodger Stadium.

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Julio Rodríguez, the Mariners’ 21-year-old rookie phenom, has been selected as Seattle’s lone representative on the AL team. The full rosters for the annual midsummer classic were announced on a selection show Sunday afternoon on ESPN, with Rodríguez the only rookie to make the cut, and he will be spotlighted plenty leading up to the game as one of the brightest – and youngest – rising stars in the game.

Rodríguez is the fifth rookie in Mariners history to be named an All-Star, joining center fielder Ruppert Jones (1977), first baseman Alvin Davis (1984), right fielder Ichiro Suzuki (2001) and pitcher Michael Pineda (2011). He’s also the third Mariner player to be named an All-Star in his age 21 season or younger, joining Alex Rodriguez and Ken Griffey Jr.

“I was pretty excited. Honestly, I got very excited when I found out I was gonna be a part of the All-Star team,” Rodríguez said Sunday. “It’s like a dream. It’s like a dream that I had as a kid, and to be able to achieve that right now in my first year, I’m definitely really excited and proud of the work that I’ve done.”

Entering Sunday, Rodríguez was hitting .274 with a .335 on-base percentage and .480 slugging percentage, the last two numbers of which add up to an .815 OPS. He is tied for the Mariners lead with 15 home runs, leads the team with 50 runs scored, and is third with 43 RBIs.

Rodríguez’s 21 steals (on 25 attempts) are tied for the AL lead and second overall in MLB, and per Baseball Reference he ranks eighth in all of baseball in offensive WAR (3.4) and 10th in overall WAR (3.5).

Rodríguez entered 2022 as the No. 2 overall prospect according to Baseball America, and after making the Mariners out of spring training he has blossomed into the favorite to win AL Rookie of the Year. He’s won back-to-back AL Rookie of the Month awards and is the reigning AL Player of the Week.

Previously: Is Julio Rodríguez an All-Star already? MLB insiders say yes

It was expected for Rodríguez to be a transformational player for the Mariners, but not exactly this sudden. He quickly rose up the Mariners’ batting order, going from the bottom third to regularly hitting No. 3, then transitioning to the leadoff spot in recent weeks. He’s played strong defense in center field, which is somewhat of a surprise considering he was projected as a prospect to be a corner outfielder due to his 6-foot-4 frame, and he has wowed with his elite speed, something else that not many saw coming because of his size.

The announcement of Rodríguez making the AL All-Star team was met with a huge ovation at T-Mobile Park between the fifth and sixth innings during Sunday’s game between the Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays.

With Rodríguez as the lone representative of the red-hot M’s (44-42), that means the Mariners have a number of All-Star candidates who were picked over. They include first baseman Ty France (.310 average, .851 OPS), who was likely hurt by recently missing two weeks with a strained left elbow, and starting pitchers Logan Gilbert (2.61 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, eight quality starts) and Robbie Ray (3.51 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 10 quality starts, six straight starts of at least six innings pitched and no more than one run allowed). Any of those three players could still be added as All-Star replacements for players who are injured or unavailable to play in the game, and France could be first up with Houston slugger Yordan Álvarez going on the injured list Sunday.

The MLB All-Star Game will take place on Tuesday, July 19 in Los Angeles. The All-Star festivities will include the MLB Draft from July 17-19, the Home Run Derby on July 18, and the MLB Futures Game on July 17. The Mariners will be represented in the Futures Game by right-handed pitcher Emerson Hancock, who plays for their Double-A affiliate, the Arkansas Travelers.

Hancock didn’t pitch in the 2021 Futures Game due to injury but was one of three Mariners prospects on the American League squad. The others? Outfielder Jarred Kelenic and – you guessed it – Rodríguez.

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